Music & Audio > Sound Mixing > Intro To Home Recording > Getting The Session Ready

Getting the Session Ready


Intro to Home Recording


Lesson Info

Getting the Session Ready

We're going to start to get set up here, basically, if I was recording a session now, josh shows up, we're going to record a session, we want to start to get the session ready, so we've created the session we've named it, we want to start to add different tracks right now this sort of a blank studio, a blank mix of there's, nothing there. We're going to track and click new, and this little dialogue pops up and says, you want to create any track? Well, what type? How many all that kind of stuff, so pro tools allows you to create a number different types of tracks if you click on the type here that pops down, you see that there's a number different options. We're not going to cover all of these today, but we're going to cover a few of them that are useful for a number different purpose is probably the most common one that she'd uses an audio track, which is basically what you plug a microphone into and say, I want to record some audio from the microphone that's plugged into the interface...

, and I want to record that into pro tools. That's, an audio track dogs input is not a recording track it's not something that gets reported it's something that's used to send audio within the mixer from one place to another we're going to use it today for a mixed bus for a river bus, which we'll talk about when we get to mixing phase later on this afternoon. Andi, we're also going to look at a master fader we're also gonna use a dog's input for a click track, so you'll kind of see some different ways that you can use that, like I just said a master fader is basically set up is the master track for the entire session, so you can set up a number of different masters to be able t used for different purposes. Well, like I said, get into that more we talk about mixing, we're not going to so much talk about v c a master's today, it's a little more of an advanced topic. Many track is basically a middie instrument like this track right here there. This will use with the virtual instrument with the keyboard controller andan instrument track in an instant track is what's called a virtual instrument or something that exist inside a computer that you can use, and we'll talk about how you go about using those when we start to do some overdubs. So, yeah, those were the different types of tracks you also have the option of choosing the whether the track is mono stereo or surround sound track. What that basically means is with the model track there's only one channel and it's just one single input coming in if you're going to record one vocal mike, for example, one guitar most of time we're dealing with mono tracks um if you were to choose the stereo track, that track now has two inputs basically a left and a right channel. So with stereo track you could set up like a stereo keyboard, for example, or there's also stereo microphones or sometimes you want to set up a track with two microphones that are operating like a stereo track like sometimes drum overheads will have a left channel in the right channel and you can set that up is a stereo track or room like sometimes you wanna have sort of a stereo image of a room so you can set up a stereo track um, we're gonna go ahead and add one mano track for the guitar and one mano track for the vocal. We also want to set up a stereo master fader, which we'll talk about a little bit later um and that's going to be our basic setup for recording what we're calling a scratch track so one size had those you can see they get added to both the edit window and the mixed window and we're going to go through and talk about how we're going toe use those in just a second, first thing. We're going to his label these tracks, so obviously you can see they pop up with just sort of your standard audio one into something that's unique about pro tools that's really important to know is that whatever you label the track, as is what the actual audio file gets named as so it's really helpful later, if you ever have to go back and try to find a track to make sure that it's labeled correctly from the very beginning, so that it doesn't show up with a whole bunch of files that just say audio one audio to audio three it's kind of hard to find some of that sometimes, so the very first time to go and click on audio one, we're going to call this guitar, um, scratch, and then this one is going to be vocal scratch. Like I said, now, anything that gets recorded on those tracks will be labeled with the same names, so you could find those audio files later if you ever needed to. Um, okay, so we're basically set up with the inputs we're going to be josh over in just a second before we do, I just want to talk about briefly what a scratch track is you guys might have recorded those before might not have we're going to talk about what that looks like and how you use those basically what a scratch track is the concept behind it is saying, well, we've got a song we've written we want to start like getting it into the computer and recording stuff, but in order to do that, we need to sort of a rough outline of the song that we can start working around, so we're going to record a scratch track, which is basically it's sort of a guide track it's josh just playing through the song along with the click tracks so that all the parts are lined up in the right spots as far as the beats of the actual song, we're going to go back and replace both his guitar and vocal later, but right now it's just sort of a guide to get it into the computer so it's in there and we can actually start layering some stuff. One of the reasons we recorded scratch track is that usually when you record guitar vocals, any sort of additional parts you want to be playing those along to a rhythm track so that they sort of line up with the rhythmic element of whatever you're recording if you do that the guitar parts first and add the drums later a lot of times it feels really a natural because the drums air following the guitar and said any other way around so most of the time it's best to record a scratch track, then get the drums in and then re record those tracks so that you have more of a natural human field to how the guitar on the vocals were basically feeling there's. Also a really helpful way of song writing with with recording a scratch track. A lot of times you might not know exactly how long you want certain parts. Maybe I want tohave, you know, an intro of four bars. Or maybe I wanna have a bridge that lasts eight bars, and until I get that into the computer and I start messing around with production, I might not know exactly how many sections each of those are, how long I want them to be. And sometimes I can change my mind by recording the scratch track, I can get into the computer, I can start working and then decide, oh, you know what? This part actually needs to be eight bars instead of four bars. Or maybe this transition needs to be shorter, and I could just cut that out. Having a scratch track and there to go along with you can get a sense. As you start layer and produce different topic and different parts, you can start to see how those start to make a lot more sense. So that's really helpful, um cool, so we're basically set up to start getting scratched, tracked, recorded before we do anything, we're also going to add what's, called a click track pro tools makes it real easy and track you just go up to track and go down to say, create click track what a click click track basically does is it plays a metro gnome from the computer, along with the exact grid that's laid out in the edit window that allows josh, while he's playing to be able to play along with the tempo that we've said in the computer so that later, when we go in and add drums, those air all sort of layered in the exact same rhythmic fashion as far as all the right measures in bars and beats. So we'll get into a little bit specifically as we start to get set up here, but how the click track works. So, josh, if you want to come, we're going to go and get set up. As you can see, we've got basically just on acoustic guitar and vocal mike that we have plugged in and both of those air plugged into the interface and we're gonna go ahead and record each of these parts into the computer along with the scratch track. Josh can play along with the song he's going have headphones that you could hear the click track playing and then a cz we get that recorded, we can actually go in and start to hear the song itself and start to layer different parts there's a couple important things to understand which we're going to walk through here is we get set up so before anything we're going to get some headphones for josh thank you headphones because this is a scratch guitar part they were going to be recording these later, the only thing I'm really concerned about as faras audio quality when recording is just making sure that it's not distorting and that josh can hear himself ok, so we're gonna go through and do just kind of a really quick sound check in line check to have him sing and play as I adjust the gain of the different inputs on the apogee quartet so he can sort of see some of those levels. So before we do anything there's, one more application that I want to introduce you to the apogee has and that's called the maestro software and the maestro is basically just an interface it's just a piece of software that controls the interface itself that comes with the apogee quartet for free and it's basically a really simple control device that just allows you to change some different parameters on the actual interface so we're gonna go ahead and open the maestro, and as it pops up, you'll see it'll show thean put it already notice is that this is the quartet is connected and it's got a number different tabs up here. The input tab basically shows the two inputs that we have plugged in microphone one a microphone to, um, it shows a couple of the outputs that we're using. It has some of the output routing, which we'll get into in just a sec on, but it has the mixer in the mixer basically shows two different mixtures that you can use, which we'll talk about in just a second, which becomes kind of an important thing, especially when recording with headphones so real quick, we're goingto set up the input window really quick and talk about the two inputs s o we have the microphone plugged into input one because this is what's called a large diaphragm condenser microphone, it requires something called fan and power, which is basically an electrical signal that goes through the mic cable on back to the microphone and allows it to charge the capacitor that's inside so that you can actually start to use it. So the fan of power is just a button you basically push, and if you can see it's this little forty eight button on the bottom of the input right here and that basically says, I need to send forty eight votes of phantom power to the microphone to turn it on, basically, so we've got we've, I'm gonna have to push that, and as you can see, we get signal, we've got sort of the game, not here, basically of how much gain we want to have and how much input is going to be coming into that channel. This one right here is a instrument input it's just a guitar input so he's plugged into that and we're going to set the games between the two of these, so just want to just play guitar for just a little bit, something just gave way looks pretty good, typically with the game, you just want to keep it so that the level is, um, coming in pretty, pretty high that you can actually see it, but there's plenty of room to keep it from distorting. S o I usually try to keep it red around the top of the green section. Here you can sort of see there's three different parts of the little meter there there's, the green, the yellow and the red definitely want to stay out of the red, try to keep it out of the yellow and you want to keep the signal just right in the green there so that you don't you still have some room to keep it from distorting I'm just going to go ahead and sing for a little bit too while you're playing and we wait wait cool, that sounds awesome what's really good about the way that joshua sang that song to you noticed him say in the course was a lot louder than it was in the verse josh obviously has an awesome projecting voice and see if he's got that range that's really important for engineers, especially when you're starting to sort of keep in mind that singer's might have a pretty big dynamic range and so waiting for a while to let him sing through and ceo while he actually it's way louder in the course allow me to make sure that it's not going to distort so I've got the input levels pretty much set we're going over the pro tools to make sure we're getting signaling here you want to go in the sink a little bit josh what allowed one of the clan I just want to find that way cool so as you can see we're getting signal in everything looks good really quick before we get too far I want to talk just a little bit about concept in recording called leighton sea, which is something that is a little bit tricky people have to deal with, and we want to make sure that we cover that's that you guys know kind of what leighton c is. So whenever you plug on mike thrown into an interface and run it into a computer and then listen back to it out through the headphones or through speakers again, it takes time for that whole process toe work. Mohr higher end systems often have very low latent seeing the average low latent see so that you can monitor that signal without too much notice. But most home recording system still have enough of late and see where you notice the difference in time between when you're singing and playing when you hear back in your headphones and that could be kind of distracting if you're trying to play along and you hear the signal coming after headphones delayed, it feels like you're singing either with an echo or that you're sort of off on dh that could get really confusing. So one thing that a lot of different interfaces have that's really helpful, especially the maestro a cz they have mixers built into the interface that allow you to blend the single that's coming straight in with the return from pro tools. Without having to go through pro tools and have that leighton c s o this was really helpful when you're setting a basic recording so we're going to talk just briefly how the apogee quartet does that and that does it does it with something called the mixer so the court set has two different mixtures that you can use for two different outputs so we're going to deal with two different mixtures today one for the mixer that we're going to mix for these speakers which is just controlling the blend of instruments that are coming to these speakers and the second one is me for the headphones that josh issues so if you look up here the mixer one is going to be for what we're listening to here in the studio and then the mixer down here is going to be for what josh is hearing in his headphones all these air the different inputs that are built into the actual apogee quartet and then over here is what's called the software return which is what's coming back from pro tools so we want to be able to blend in his headphones what we're hearing from pro tools with what he's playing that's going straight into the interface a cz we start to do overdubs he'll need to hear the track that's being played back but even from the very beginning he needs to hear the click track which is coming from pro tools so we're going to look at how those things kind of blend together up here, we're gonna look at the output routing on this looks a little bit tricky. Looks a little bit confusing. What we've basically done is set the mixer one which I just showed you to line went into which is the output that's connected to these speakers and set mixer to to the headphone jack. That way, the headphone jack is being controlled by the second mixer window. And the line in output for the speakers is be connected to the first mixer. So we can sort of use those two together. So, josh, you want to go and play for a little second? We can set up your headphone mix and make sure you're getting enough. Yeah, you can get e I can hear that pretty good here again. Just need to come up or down. Uh, that was good. Ok, how much gold is there, little clay? Ok, we're gonna go over here to the vocal track and turn that up a little bit in his head check check. Check things on the city. Yeah. That's. Good that's. Good. Okay. Is this mic placement all right? Yeah, yeah, ok for the scratch track, it should be fine, cool, so now we basically said of his headphone mix we're going to go through and figure out the temple to the song so that he can start recording just sort of a very simple scratch track along with it. Do you have any idea what the tempo is of this of the song world? Quick, josh, I don't okay, no problem at all, so we're going to go ahead to start playing along the everything to really quick remember is since we're monitoring from his from the mixer window in the maestro back to his headphones, we want to make sure the mute the tracks in pro tools so that he's not hearing both of them otherwise you'll have both them together, but they'll be a little bit off and you get kind of this echo, he said. So we make sure make sure that doesn't happen, ok, so we're going to set up a click track and pro tools, and, like I said, click track basically just a metrodome that tells joshua's he's playing where he is in the song and what each of the beets are twenty two the measures are we have to set the tempo to the song that he's already playing on dh there's actually two ways to do that in pro tools and it's a little bit tricky, depending on how you want to set it up. You can either set up the session so that the entire session is one tempo for the very beginning to the very end that's most of the time what you're going to use approach was also allows you to build what's called a temple map which would allow you to go in and basically change the tempo at certain points throughout the song this is really helpful in the studio if you're setting up a session that starts off at one tempo and then changes to a little bit of a different tempo then changes meter you can build a whole map in pro tools for your entire song we're going to keep it pretty simple today so we're just going to set a global tempo for the entire song the way that you do that we're going to open the window and pull up the transport and the transport is an expanded view of basically what's going on up here and we're gonna go down here to the little picture of the conductor and once I click that it now turns off the tempo map that's built into pro tools and allows me just to set a global tempo so we're going to go and start with uh one fifty and we'll kind of see how that seems really quick so I'm gonna go and play this and if you want to play along with that josh will sort of sense to see how faster still feels right? Is that good? Yeah, well, fast, it'll slow. You think it sounds good? Feel good to me. Okay, let's, go and try singing it real quick and just kind of take a little second to see what that seems like. Wait, slow down. Maybe just a couple beats, okay, maybe like one forty eight or so. Yeah, so we'll go and click on that. We'll bring it down so that they could be by forty eight my way. Cool. So we got the temple set. We've got the song ready to go. I think we're ready to go ahead and record a scratch track really quick. Another thing just words of wisdom from experience. It's really helpful later on as you start to produce the track, if you ever decided I would be really cool to have a sixteen bar opening or a par little drum filled for the song starts so I'm gonna actually go forth and started bar nine just so there's an extra eight bars of the beginning in case I want to use that later on for an intro that way that's always there, and I don't have to go back later and dragged the whole session to a drag it over when I decided the end that I want to put it in true in, um so there's a couple of ways to do that really quick we're going to talk about before we get started here the two different modes that we I talked about using today slip mode means that whenever I click anywhere in the session wherever the cursor lands is exactly where it's going to be which is probably going to be not very specific so right now just where I happen to click you could see its bar twenty eight beat one and subete one eighty four which is really sort of you know in the middle of nowhere if I was to try to exactly click on bar nine it would be really, really hard to try to go through and find exactly how to click so they have what's called grid mode which allows you to select or click anywhere in the session and have it snap to the nearest grid grid point so I'm going to click on grid mode and then over here it's showing me what that greatest set up so I've got it set up his bars and beats and do I want to snap to the nearest half note quarter note eighth note we're gonna go ahead and put it on the entire measure right now because we're just doing really quick a scratch track so we're just going to keep that set up now when I click there starts right exactly it bar nine so it's really simple we're going to actually start off on bar seven, because we want to give josh two bars of intro for him to sort of get the sense of the click track in his head so he could start playing. Um, so you'll hear two bars of the click track before you can start playing on gun. The next thing we're gonna do is we're going to go ahead and mute the speakers. So that it's not bleeding into the microphone since he's, obviously sitting right here in the room.

Class Description

We’ve got the training you need to get started with home music recording. In this course audio engineer, Zach Varnell breaks home recording down into simple, easy-to-understand steps and sets you up with the skills you need to record music using minimal gear and a basic computer.

In this course Zach will walk you through the basic set-up you’ll want to create to start recording music at home. You will learn how to record vocals with a microphone, capture bass and guitar tracks and how to work with virtual drums and synths. Zach is an industry veteran and will share shortcuts he picked up from a career in music. This course will set you up to start recording immediately and give you a solid foundation for taking more advanced courses.

Music recording doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complex – join us for this foundational class and learn how you can record songs that sound great using very basic equipment.